America is more divided than ever as people vote in the midterm elections on Nov. 6, but there is one bipartisan issue the majority of people seem to support — paid family leave.
The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that does not offer parents some kind of paid family leave. Some 84% of voters would like to see that change, according to a national survey of 1,000 voters released this week by the National Partnership for Women and Families, a non profit group in Washington, D.C. advocating for paid leave, saying they support national paid family and medical leave.
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Some 72% of Republicans say it’s important for the next Congress and whoever is elected president in 2020 to consider paid family leave versus 95% of Democrats.
‘Paid family leave is extremely popular with the general public.’
Overall, 70% of voters believe that political party shouldn’t matter when it comes to supporting a national paid family and medical leave policy. “Paid family leave is extremely popular with the general public,” said Gayle Goldin, Rhode Island State Senator and advisor for Family Values at Work. The reason, she says, is simple. Most people have direct experience of paid family leave, or lack thereof, and they realize how such a policy impacts their quality of life.
The current federal standard, created by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, allows someone 12 weeks of leave without pay. Yet only 14% of employers offer paid paternity leave.
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Some 82% of voters in the latest survey said this federal policy needs to be updated, and local lawmakers have mobilized to create framework on the state level, with advertisements addressing paid family leave common as the midterm elections approach. Seven in 10 voters would be more likely to support a 2018 Congressional candidate who publicly supports a national paid family and medical leave policy.
Candidates, however, disagree on how to best implement such a program.
Candidates, however, disagree on how to best implement such a program. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have co-sponsored a bill called The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national family and medical leave insurance program.
These programs work by requiring all workers to pay into a social insurance pool from which a parent or caretaker can draw to replace wages when they have to leave work. Others support a tax credit for companies that offer paid family leave to incentivize the policy.
The National Partnership for Women and Families study found 68% of Democrats, 61% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans support Sen. Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act.
“It doesn’t matter if you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent,” Goldin said. “If your mom has breast cancer and needs you to care for her, you want to be there. No matter who you vote for, life’s going to happen to you.”
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Kari Paul is a personal finance reporter based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @kari_paul.
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